About Us

Board of Directors

Karen Soanes

Chair

Karen (she/her) and her husband are excited to be back living in the South Wedge. Currently she is the Director of Instructional Technology & Professional Development for the Bloomfield Central School District. She tries not to let work not get in the way of her music, photography, reading, and gardening hobbies. Karen is involved in several Citizen Science projects related to pollinators and plants. Karen's gardening passion is perennials and pollinators, but she successfully grew vegetables last summer and is already “plotting” this summer’s raised bed design. She considers gardening to be dirt therapy and is thrilled to have found a home in the 490 Garden.


Chloe Smith

Vice Chair


Chloe Smith (she/her) grew up in Scottsville and studied Illustration at RIT. Since 2014 she has worked as a local artist & muralist with a passion for beautifying the community she lives in. Over the years she has also worked as a teacher, receptionist, retail merchandiser, and empanada maker. She started the 490 Garden in 2017 as a side project and effort to build community, and feels so blessed to have seen it come to fruition and to have found her tribe in the process. She loves vegetables, animals, being outdoors, and traveling.


Erin Turpin

Secretary

Erin (she/her) is the Board Secretary for 490 Farmers. She is currently serving as Business Analyst with the Systems Integration Project at United Way. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability and Sociology from St. John Fisher College. She is passionate about environmental justice and food access, and she loves plants, gardening, and building community.

Kenneth Caminero

Treasurer

Kenneth Caminero is a New York City native who decided to plant roots in Rochester after graduating from St. John Fisher College in 2019. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration from Pace University. Kenneth is a car enthusiast, a baseball fan, and recently became a member of the Bills mafia. He loves to travel and his goal is to eventually visit all 30 MLB baseball stadiums.


Traveling between Rochester and New York City, Kenneth learned about how food insecurity plagues both cities. Growing up in Brooklyn, his community often lacked access to healthy food. Today, he recognizes that healthy options are often unaffordable or inaccessible to many Rochester residents. He is passionate about increasing accessibility within the Rochester community to healthy lifestyle choices in order to promote long-term health and well-being.


Rachel Campbell

Board Member

Rachel Campbell (she/her) grew up in West Irondequoit. She learned about plants, gardening, and exploring through her dearly departed grandmother, Francina Banks. She has a bachelor's of arts in English and African & African-American Studies and continued her studies at Syracuse University, gaining a Masters in Pan-African Studies in 2019. After teaching at Syracuse University, she moved back to Rochester, New York. For her, gardening is a hobby and love that can reflect one's culture and family history. Rachel joined 490 Farmers as a plot member in 2021. As a Board member, she wishes to address food insecurity and disrupt narrow definitions of health, environmentalism, and food culture that disregard Black and indigenous contributions. When she is not teaching or gardening, you can find Rachel taking care of her Shepard/hound, Olive, working out, traveling, painting, or reading.

Kevin Stewart

Board Member

Kevin (He/Him) is a third generation Christmas tree farmer and has been working to learn and build restorative agriculture practices for six years. Since finishing his undergraduate degrees at the University at Buffalo he has worked in a wide variety of fields, including hospitality and early education for medically fragile children.


Now a center-city resident, Kevin and his partner started the Ambrose Garden last year with some incredible community members, and he’s also the co-founder of a micro-farming business. With the onset of the pandemic and the highlighting of systemic racism and inequality through the Black Lives Matter movement it is more important than ever to build a community that protects and meets the basic needs of all our neighbors. Kevin is honored to be a part of 490 Farmers and to work alongside such passionate people who can combine the joys of gardening with the principles of justice and sustainability.

Sarah Keyes

Board Member

Sarah Keyes (she/her) is a resident of the Swillburg neighborhood in Rochester, NY. She currently works in the Office of the Dean at RIT’s Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. She also enjoys taking classes at RIT, and one that she completed there is what really peaked her interest in gardening. She has participated in a variety of community gardens in the Rochester area, and thinks each one has its own features that make them unique. Sarah volunteers with the Rochester Mutual Aid Network and enjoys helping members of the community when she can in her spare time. You might be able to see her around Rochester walking her dachshund, Winnie, or walking to and from the closest community garden.

Louis McLane

Board Member

Louis (he/him) has been shoveling mulch since his first job at a plant nursery at the age of 14, and seemingly can never get away from it. He currently lives in the Highland Park neighborhood with his wife Lindsay and dog Simone. He teaches physics at RIT and spends his summers tending to the flowers and chiles grown in his plots at the 490 Farmers community garden. When not teaching or gardening he enjoys cycling, cooking, hiking, and watching movies.



Tex

Board Member

James "Tex" Martin was born in Bryan, Texas, lived on a dairy farm, and always had something growing. He found his way to Rochester NY via bicycle in 2011. He has been mainly houseless since his arrival and been an advocate for places such as Peace Village and working with the City to continue to be a voice for houseless individuals.


He became a plot member in the inaugural season of 490 Farmers in the summer of 2018. Since then, he has done so much for the space, helping build and design, is an incredible gardener and is a handy man for the space as well.

Amy Stell

Board Member


Amy Stell (she/her) grew up in Rochester, NY and is a lifelong learner and professional nerd. Amy graduated from the University of Rochester with a Bachelors in History and Music and a Masters in Education and is currently back at the U of R as a doctoral student in teaching and curriculum. Amy is the Lead Teacher and Social Studies teacher at Nativity Preparatory Academy where her passions in history meld with her pursuit of culturally relevant and antiracist/anti-oppressive pedagogy. Amy's students are an absolute gift and what originally brought her to 490 Farmers! In her free time, Amy loves to read, cook, travel, and spend time with friends, family and her beagle Olive! Amy is passionate about justice, equity, education, food, art, and laughter. She can't wait to learn and grow with 490 Farmers, and hopes to extend their education programs to enrich the lives of students and families in Rochester!

Andy Dunning

Board Member

Andy (he/him) grew up in Pultneyville, NY. He spent his youth playing in apple orchards, fields, swimming in lake ontario, and exploring the creek behind his house ~ He couldn't get enough of being in Nature. As an adult he's traveled many places; he loves to travel and meet new people. He is a Veteran, Vegan and Animal Rights Activist. He enjoys teaching people to expand their Circle of Compassion to include all animals. Through his travels ~ he has discovered his love of Rochester. For him, the 490 Garden is community, nature, growing food, meeting new people, sunshine, rain, kindness & activism ~ it's a slice of country in the city. The 490 Garden with it's unlimited potential is a place that he's proud to be a part of.

Our Staff

Courtney Klee

Executive Director

Courtney Klee is a lover of other people's dogs and a champion for the community in which she resides. Courtney comes to 490 Farmers with a wealth of nonprofit experience. Courtney has lived in three different countries and four states. She has worked on youth development in diverse places such as Pursat, Cambodia & Chicago. IL. She arrived in Rochester in 2015 and worked in housing advocacy at PathStone for 5 years. In 2020, she oversaw the changes at the South East Area Coalition as Interim Executive Director where she became more involved with 490 Famers. In her free time, you can find her traveling to visit the people she loves around the globe, eating and drinking locally, and, of course, petting other people's dogs.

Rachel Farley

Farm Manager


Rachel Snyder

Volunteer Business Partner

Rachel Snyder is a culturally competent and innovative community leader with a passion for capacity building, social justice and facilitation. From leading employee engagement initiatives to training and on-boarding staff and advocating for progressive policies, Rachel’s broad skill set demonstrates a commitment to people and mission. Her passion for equity is exercised through her allyship and continued commitment to skill building in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wells College and a Master’s from the University of Rochester. Additionally, she earned her Graduate Certificate in Project Management from R.I.T. She currently serves as a Board Member for Healthy Baby Network, the Irondequoit Public Library, and has been a Board member with Lollypop Farm Professionals, Wells College Young Alumni, Southeast Area Coalition and Connect & Breathe. In her free time, Rachel enjoys craft cocktails, traveling with her husband, trivia and cracking up her friends.

Kira Avery

Volunteer Interpreter

Kira Avery (she/her) is a Rochester native, who has always loved plants and her community. She works as an American Sign Language interpreter at RIT, and is committed to providing language justice in her community. Kira is currently studying towards certification in Cornell’s Master Beekeeper program, and is in her 4th year of gardening at her home in Mendon. She enjoys spending time with her husband Alex, and taking long hikes with her dog Pepper.


Kira is proud to support 490 Farmers and their work to build intentional community around solving food insecurity (as well as a love of gardening) in Rochester.